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More electric fences to be constructed in vulnerable areas

Daily News logo Daily News 15/08/2022 Daily News (via HT Media Ltd.)

The human-elephant conflict has seen an increase in the last three years leading to the destrution of the lives of wild elephants and humans in various parts of the island. Accordingly, 407 elephant deaths and 122 human deaths were reported in 2019, 328 elephant deaths and 112 human deaths in 2020 and 375 elephant deaths and 142 human deaths in 2021 respectively.

In the first four months of 2022, 57 elephant deaths and 34 human deaths have been reported. Of these wild elephant deaths, 13 were shot, 17 were due to electrocution, 19 were due to Hakka Patas blasts and eight due to injuries.

A discussion regarding the prevention of elephant-human conflict in the Hambantota district was held on Saturday (13) under the patronage of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Minister Mahinda Amaraweera at the Lunugamwehera Wildlife Office. Wildlife officers and other officials participated.

It was revealed here that the elephant-human conflict exists in 131 Regional Secretariat jurisdictions in 19 districts located in eight provinces of Sri Lanka.

Minister Amaraweera observed that the necessary equipment for the construction of electric elephant fences to cover all areas where wild elephants are threatened in the Hambantota District are available in the Lunugamwehera Wildlife Office. Nevertheless, it was revealed that the construction of electric fences remains a problem due to the protest of some farmers' organisations.

It has also been revealed that the equipment brought to set up electric fences which is stored at wildlife offices all over the island have not been properly utilized.

Therefore, as a step to mitigating the human-elephant conflict within the next year, the Minister instructed Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Secretary Chandra Herath to have discussions with farmer organisations and farmers in order to expedite work on the project. Minister Amaraweera also said that although elephants are included in the list of animals that damage crops, steps should be taken to include them in the protected animal category to work out a future plan so that land located in areas where wild elephants are abundant not be given for development projects.

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